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Conn. Teen Killed on Prom Day Mourned at Candlelight Vigil

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hundreds held candles and remembered the 16 year old who touched so many lives. (Published Monday, Apr 28, 2014)

    Families and friends of Maren Sanchez lined up outside a Milford funeral home on Thursday to attend a wake for the Milford teen who was killed at school on Friday.

    The 16-year-old was stabbed inside Jonathan Law High School and a 16-year-old classmate has been charged as an adult with her murder.

    Sanchez was pronounced dead at Bridgeport Hospital on Friday, hours before she was supposed to attend the school's junior prom. She was named prom queen later that day.

    Her death was ruled a homicide and the medical examiner determined that she died from stab wounds to the neck and torso.

    The suspect, Christopher Plaskon, 16, is being held at a psychiatric facility.

    Students returned to school this week to find a large police presence on campus and counselors as well as therapy dogs were present to help students and staff cope with the loss.

    "[It's] a slightly eerie feeling being back in the school where something like this happened, but I have to stay positive," said Soumya Kundu, a senior.

    Around 2,000 mourners gathered at the school football field on Monday to pay tribute to Sanchez and remember the teen who made a mark on the lives of so many.

    Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Branford lacrosse team were among thousands who gathered to grieve her at the candlelight vigil.

    Malloy called Sanchez a star, saying she was inclusive, kind, talented and giving. He said she accomplished so much in a short period of time and affected so many.

    "She had a special quality about her that made everyone welcome," Malloy said. "She was open and kind."

    The school welcomed community members and asked mourners to bring candles. They released purple balloons to the tune of Sarah McLachlan's somber ballad "I Will Remember You."

    It was Sanchez's favorite color.

    Her own rendition of "Home" by Phillip Phillips closed out the vigil, and mourners said that in that moment, they felt her presence at the football field.

    "It felt like she was here. It really felt like she was here with us," said Mary-Grace Merturi, of Milford. "Her life was short but she made an impact on so many people. She was a beautiful soul, beautiful girl. Smart, talented."

    Today, a wake will be held at Cody White Funeral Home in Milford at 2 p.m.

    The school district is providing shuttle buses for anyone who wants to pay their respects.

    Attorney Victoria Koch, trustee of the Maren Sanchez Memorial Trust, said the family is asking Maren's friends not to wear prom attire to the wake.

    Plaskon's attorney, Richard Meehan, said his client is currently under psychiatric evaluation and a 15-day emergency commitment at a medical facility.

    Some students said the attack took place because Sanchez, a member of the National Honor Society who was active in the school community, would not go to prom with Plaskon. Police are not revealing a motive and said the investigation is ongoing.

    On Tuesday, police documents were released that reveal more about what police learned as they began investigating at the school.

    After learning about the altercation on Friday, the school resource officer began heading to the scene, but was called to the principal's office. There, he saw Plaskon, who had blood on his hands and clothing, and asked the teen what happened.

    "I did it, Just arrest me," Plaskon said, according to police.

    One witness reported seeing Plaskon on top of Sanchez and being unable to pull him away from her, according to police. Another reported removing Plaskon from the scene and seeing him toss a knife onto a hallway floor.

    Friends of Plaskon's expressed shock at the allegations, saying he is a good kid from a great family.
     
    "I was pretty good friends with the kid," said a sophomore at the school. "He was on the football team. We talked a lot, and it's kind of shocking knowing one of your good friends did something bad like that."

    Students mourning the loss of Sanchez also returned to the high school over the weekend for comfort and counseling.

    "Today is kind of hitting me because yesterday it was, you knew it happened, but you didn't know what to think about it because it's not something that happens every day and not something that you're ready for," said Kassandra Sebas, a friend of Sanchez's, on Saturday.

    The memorial outside the school continued to grow as the days passed. Grieving friends and community members left flowers, balloons, candles and mementos in Sanchez's honor.

    As students returned to school on Tuesday morning, many stopped by that very memorial before going into the high school.

    A spokesperson for Plaskon's family told NBC Connecticut their thoughts are with the victim and her family. The Plaskon family released a statement on Tuesday.

    Visiting hours for Sanchez will be held at the Cody-White Funeral Home in Milford from 2 to 7 p.m. on May 1. According to her obituary, a public funeral will not be held.

    A fund has been set up to create a scholarship in memory of Sanchez.

    Donations can be sent to:
    The Maren Sanchez Memorial Fund
    Attorney Mike McCabe, 23 Sunnyside Court, Milford CT 06460